Daily experiences remind me that the GTU tag line probably ought to read: “Where religion engages the world,” rather than “where religion meets the world.” The member schools, centers, institutes, and affiliates of the Graduate Theological Union actively engage the world in all its diversity—provoking new thought, igniting expanded spiritual awareness, and transforming lives. Let me offer just a few recent examples of how the GTU is shaping the future of religious studies:
- Laurie Zoloth, GTU ’93, was recently elected President of the American Academy of Religion, and has issued a call for the next meeting of its 10,000 college, university, and seminary professors to focus upon the effects of global warming on the poor.
- On April 7, our Women’s Studies in Religion program hosted a day of dialogue featuring three prolific Latina theologians—Jeanette Rodriguez, Nancy Pineda-Madrid, and Cecilia González-Andrieu—each of whom received her doctorate from the GTU. These scholar-practitioners reflected on the theme: “The Good, The True, and the Beautiful: Latina Theology and its Evocative Glimpses.”
- The GTU Board of Trustees recently voted to prioritize the advancement of the interreligious character of the GTU, and to actively pursue partnerships with Hindu, Jain, and Sikh communities. For the GTU, the representation at the table of the world’s great religious traditions will soon become more inclusive and complete.
- Dr. Susannah Heschel (daughter of Rabbi Abraham Heschel) spoke to a full crowd in February about a group of 19th century German scholars who studied the Qur’an in depth, translated it from Arabic into German, and explored the similarities between Judaism and Islam as monotheistic religions built upon ethical structures. The lecture was a reminder that the ongoing cooperative work of the Center for Jewish Studies and the Center for Islamic Studies has deep roots in the past.
- Santa Clara University/Jesuit School of Theology hosted an appearance of the Dalai Lama who, along with Silicon Valley corporate leaders, focused on contemporary business ethics. The Dalai Lama reminded us that the key to ethical behavior is to break stifling self-absorption and put into practice a compassionate regard for others. He noted that this wisdom has circulated through human communities for a very long time but remains highly relevant to contemporary human enterprises.
The Graduate Theological Union is committed to becoming a more robust and comprehensive center where the world’s great religious traditions engage one another, so that we might offer the next generation of scholars and religious and non-profit leaders unique opportunities to prepare for the diverse contexts in which they will teach and lead. With your support and partnership, the GTU will expand its mission of providing a vital space where religion and the world intersect, as we seek to work toward peace-making, social transformation, and sustainable practices in the twenty-first century.